Leasing the Future

Laura Stoloff

The class of 2010 has already begun the race all Colgate underclassmen fear: the pursuit for the best off-campus house or apartment that downtown Hamilton has to offer.

This class year in particular has shown great anxiety as almost all of the off-campus housing for the 2009-2010 academic year has been filled up since the middle of September. The Office of Residential Life blames the sophomores’ lack of awareness regarding Colgate’s senior housing options, yet students claim they feel pressure to live downtown from upperclassmen who went through the same struggle a year or two ago.

Sophomore Erin Hatch began the process several weeks ago after hearing fellow students and upperclassmen converse about senior housing options.

“My friends and I had heard from older students that sophomore fall was when people began planning for senior year,” she said. “Upperclassmen have been spreading the word about how fun it is to live downtown, which has increased interest in our class.”

However, Hatch also looked at the negative aspects of downtown housing.

“Our main priority is getting to class on time, but we hear the Cruiser is reliable during the day and feel like it would be easy to get rides up the hill from other kids downtown,” Hatch said. “Another concern is noise. We’ve heard that it can be really loud in some of the apartments, particularly those on Lebanon [Street] downtown.”

Assistant Dean of the College and Director of Residential Life Jennifer Adams commented on the struggle of sophomore students, like Hatch, who are anxious to sign a lease in the downtown area.

“It’s very worrisome for us [Residential Life]. We only grant 250 students off campus housing for their senior year,” Adams said.

Sophomores longing for off-campus housing their senior year cannot apply for the grant until their junior year, which poses many problems for the students signing leases before this time.

“It is very risky signing a lease for senior year your sophomore year,” Adams said. “There are individuals who get permission to live off campus, and there are individuals who do not.”

In the online “Guide to Off-Campus Living,” Associate Director of Residential Life James Amato lays out the guidelines for sophomores pursuing a non-Colgate-affiliated apartment or house. Amato assists students in finding housing, helping them with lease agreements, town ordinances, and expectations.

Amato explains the off-campus lottery, which takes place in the fall of a student’s junior year. He specifically refers to the Class of 2009. Students aspiring to live off campus for the 2008-2009 academic year are required to fill out an off-campus lottery application, available September 5, 2007, in the Office of Residential Life. The form must be returned by October 24, 2007.

The lottery system assigns a number to an application form at random. However, Amato makes note that the procedure for off-campus housing differs from the sophomore room selection process. With room selection, each person is given a lottery number, and, if one person receives a good number than they can pull all of their friends into a room, suite, or apartment. This is not the case with the off-campus lottery: each student applying must be approved individually.

Residential Life will notify students who applied for the off-campus housing by early November. Students must then accept their permission from Residential Life by December 5, 2007.

Adams and Amato both understand why students are so eager to move off-campus, but they do not support it.

“It is understandable why they’re doing it,” Amato said. “But it’s not wise.”

Amato explains that students fail to understand the many housing options Colgate offers such as sorority/fraternity houses, themed houses, Townhouse apartments and apartments.

However, sophomore Jordan Eipper offered an explanation as to why students steer away from Colgate’s senior housing.

“Perhaps it has something to do with the decreasing popularity of the townhouses,” Eipper said.

Adams, when commenting on the struggle for off-campus housing, explained the history Colgate has with the Hamilton community. The village of Hamilton includes 3,800 residents, which Residential Life looked at carefully when deciding how many students would receive off-campus housing.

“Four years ago, Colgate worked well with the town to reach a number of 250 students that can be supported with good landlords,” Adams said.

The Neighbor-to-Neighbor Programs founded by Tim Mansfield in 2001, which are now overseen by Amato, involve meeting with landlords in the summer of 2001 to better the off-campus living for Colgate seniors.

Mansfield set up a partnership that has recently developed the “Off-Campus ‘Gate,” a monthly newsletter to update students on town events, landlord profiles, and village ordinances.